Notorious cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has some strong opinions about where his billions of dollars gained from the drug trade should go—and he’s hoping that it benefits the poor indigenous communities of his home country of Mexico.
On Wednesday, attorney Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza, who represents the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, told reporters that Guzman “said the money doesn’t belong to the United States but to the government of Mexico,” according to EFE news agency.
Gonzalez noted that his client informed family members that he is well aware that Washington is seeking to seize some $14 billion of assets from the former drug trafficker.
“El Chapo” remains adamant that the money should remain in the hands of the Mexican nation on the condition that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador redistributes it to needy indigenous communities, the lawyer added.
The statement comes two months after the Mexican president announced that his government would do all that they could to seize the former drug trafficker’s assets. Since then, the Mexican Senate has proposed the creation of a binational commission that would negotiate a return of assets seized from Mexican criminals tried and convicted in the U.S.
On Thursday, Lopez Obrador cautiously welcomed the statement from “El Chapo,” stating:
“I like the statement, I don’t know if it’s true, I can’t verify it, but if that’s how it came out in the media, that [El Chapo] wants his wealth to be delivered to the indigenous communities of Mexico, it looks good to me [and] I celebrate it.”
In July, federal Judge Brian Cogan gave the 62-year-old former narco a prison term of life plus 30 years while ordering Guzman to forfeit a whopping US $12.6 billion—an amount equivalent to the total amount of illegal narcotics the jury determined he shipped to the United States.
The heavy sentence came following an 11-week trial in which jurors heard grisly tales of brutal gang killings, political bribery, massive drug-smuggling operations, and the lavish lifestyle of the former cartel leader.
Guzman is currently incarcerated in a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado—one of the most fortified jails in the entire U.S.
International human rights bodies such as the U.N. Committee Against Torture have long criticized what they describe as “the extremely harsh regime” upheld in U.S. supermax prisons, where prisoners are held in almost total social isolation, often for years on end, with devastating effects on the human psyche.
Guzman’s lawyers have criticized the inhumane conditions in which he is being held. They have also threatened to reveal the names of senior government officials of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who ruled the country from 2012 to 2018 and whom they claim are “placing obstacles” in the way of the repatriation of Guzman and his money back to his home country.